Take Action by Dec. 19th – What you need to know about a proposed HHS rule

A proposed rule by the Trump Administration would strip away vital nondiscrimination protections for HHS-funded programs and services

Understanding the impact of a recent Trump Administration proposed rule is not simple or easy, until you understand the devastating impact it would have for millions of Americans. On its face, the rule strips away comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion from many U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. But some programs have their own protections, like the Affordable Care Act, that ensures there is no discrimination based on sex in healthcare services. Rather, this complicated proposed rule requires a program-by-program analysis. 

MAP, in collaboration with Americans United, Family Equality Council, and National Center for Transgender Equality—with assistance from organizations including the ACLU and the Center for American Progress—have worked to get to the bottom about what this rule means for millions of people who rely on HHS programs. You can read more in this new analysis released today.

This rule opens a can of worms: it strips away clear nondiscrimination protections, inviting service providers

to take federal taxpayer dollars and turn people away from health and human services just because of who they are. This rule could affect many programs that millions of Americans depend on every day, such as programs older adults rely on for congregate meals, legal services, and transportation, Head Start programs for children, foster and adoption programs that help children, and more.

This broad license to discriminate with federal funds would not be limited to those who claim a religious objection to serving particular groups of people. Indeed, those who receive HHS grants wouldn’t even have to give a reason why they want to discriminate: the Trump administration would simply allow it, no questions asked.

With this new proposed rule, discrimination based on sex could be allowed in programs serving older adults. Adoption agencies could refuse to consider otherwise qualified prospective foster or adoptive families because of their religion. And a whole host of HHS-funded programs could be unavailable to LGBT people.

A short 30-day comment period for this proposed rule closes next Thursday, December 19. Share your thoughts with the Trump Administration about what this proposed rule means to you and your family.

Did you know?

Research shows that people shop from places that share their values.  

This holiday season, Open to All is making it easy to harness our collective consumer purchasing power and invest in businesses that are taking a stand for inclusion and diversity.  

Today, Open to All released its first-ever Open to All Holiday Gift Guide to encourage consumers to support inclusive businesses this holiday season.  

The Holiday Gift Guide features products from some of the most iconic brands at every price point. The guide covers an array of inclusive retailers who celebrate the core principle that any business that is open to the public should make every person feel safe and welcome—regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, immigration status, religion or disability. Click here to view the Holiday Shopping Guide in a PDF format.

Building on Open to All’s ongoing work with Yelp, starting today, people can filter by “Open to All”—an attribute which allows businesses to distinguish themselves as a safe and welcoming place to everyone—when searching for restaurants, shops, bakeries, tailors, and much more. Yelp users will also be able to identify participating businesses by the newly designed “Open to All” icon displayed on their Yelp page. These new features make it easier than ever for consumers to support inclusive businesses.

Among the Holiday Gift Guide’s featured businesses is Sephora, which today announced it is joining the growing and vocal network of major brands uniting under Open to All’s banner—including Yelp, Gap Inc., Old Navy, Coach, kate spade new york, Chronicle Books, Fossil, Lacoste, Michaels Craft Stores, Steve Madden, Tiffany & Co., H&M, and thousands of small businesses. 

At a time of deep divisions, Open to All nonprofits and businesses are joining together from all walks of life and working to build a thriving and inclusive nation where all are welcome. When we value our employees and care for our customers and each other, we all thrive. 

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NEW REPORT — Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America

Stereotypes and pop culture portrayals often overlook the diversity of rural America, framing rural regions as made up predominantly of white, politically conservative people who are hostile to LGBT people. But millions of LGBT people, including transgender people, live in rural communities — and while some struggle, others thrive.  

Today, MAP released a new report, Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America, which includes original analysis of the unique challenges and opportunities for transgender people in rural America. As the third publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural differences of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against transgender people. 
 
Click here to read the USA TODAY exclusive about the report. 
 
This report, which includes original analysis of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), offers extensive new findings on transgender people in rural communities. Although experiences of discrimination are typically as common in rural areas as in urban areas, structural challenges in rural areas, such as fewer employment or healthcare options, means the impact of discrimination on the lives of rural transgender people may be particularly profound. 

As discussed in the report findings:  

  •  Roughly one in six (16%) transgender people live in rural areas—the same percentage of the non-transgender population which lives in rural areas—according to a recent analysis by the Williams Institute of nationally representative federally-funded data.  
  • Rural transgender people are more than two times more likely—and rural transgender people of color are nearly four times more likely—as the general rural population to be unemployed and living in poverty, despite being more likely than their rural neighbors to have a college degree.  
  • Rural transgender people travel remarkable distances to see their healthcare providers. Nine percent (9%) of all transgender people travel 75 miles or more to see their transgender-related healthcare provider, but in rural areas, 27% of transgender people and 33% of transgender people of color travel 75 miles or more.   
  • Rural transgender people are six times more likely (1.7%) and rural transgender people of color are 20 times more likely (6%) than the general U.S. population (0.3%) to be HIV+.   

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America. 

Where We Call Home: Transgender People in Rural America concludes with critical recommendations:  

  • Because transgender people in rural communities face significant obstacles to accessing and receiving care, improving access to transgender-inclusive health care that is both affordable and culturally competent is vital to adequately serving transgender patients.   
  • States and the federal government should rescind and block harmful religious exemption laws that may allow service providers and employers to legally discriminate against transgender people.   
  • State officials and lawmakers should adopt laws to ensure transgender and non-binary people can update their identity documents, including driver’s licenses and birth certificates, to match their name and gender identity.   
  • Passing and enforcing transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws, as well as repealing discriminatory laws that disproportionately harm transgender people (e.g., HIV criminalization laws), will help to improve the quality of life for transgender people in rural America.   

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights

TAKE ACTION: 

Here’s what you need to know about a new proposed HHS rule announced last week

On November 1, the Trump Administration announced that it would no longer enforce existing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations that prohibit discrimination in HHS-funded programs based on sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, and religion. The administration also announced that HHS-funded programs would no longer be required to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. In addition, it put forward a new rule that would allow most programs receiving HHS grants to discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion. This proposed rule and the administration’s notice that they are suspending enforcement of existing nondiscrimination provisions will have widespread and devastating consequences.

This means federally funded programs and agencies could, for example, deny services to foster youth, refuse admission to shelters, deny children homes with prospective foster or adoptive families, shut out families seeking emergency services, and more. Those who receive government funding wouldn’t even have to justify their discrimination: the Trump administration would simply allow them to do it, no questions asked.

HHS awards more than $527 billion of taxpayer dollars in grants and contracts each year. This dangerous rule would impact the ability of millions of people to access and receive services from billions of dollars of programs ranging from adoption and foster care services for children, family preservation services, STI and HIV testing and prevention programs, Head Start programs, supportive housing services, reproductive health care, and much more. For example:

  • Head Start grant recipients and other federally funded child care facilities could refuse to serve children with married same-sex parents or provide services to a transgender youth
  • Meals on Wheels and other community meal programs designed to support older adults could refuse to deliver food to older Americans who are Jewish, Muslim, or LGBTQ
  • Adoption and foster care agencies that receive federal funding could keep children in government care rather than allow them to be adopted by qualified same-sex couples or families with different religious beliefs from the agency

Taxpayer dollars should not be used to advance discrimination and harm vulnerable children in foster care, older adults, those at risk for HIV, and more. The rule is the latest in a series of Trump administration efforts to undermine civil rights protections and harm people served by government-funded programs.

MAP, in partnership with other organizations like the ACLU, the Center for American Progress, and others, will continue to provide more information about what this proposed rule – and the notice of nonenforcement – means for the programs that millions of people count on.

What’s at stake? LGBT discrimination cases at the Supreme Court

A funeral director in Michigan fired for being transgender. A skydiving instructor in New York fired for being gay. A child welfare services coordinator in Georgia fired because of his sexual orientation.

On October 8th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three cases that have the potential to drastically change the status of LGBT equality in the United States. We’re grateful to our legal advocates at the ACLU and Lambda Legal for all they’re doing to prepare for the arguments and to defend vital legal protections for LGBT workers.

Our team at MAP wanted to share some materials that may be helpful as you follow the cases.

It goes beyond just being fired

On face value, these cases are about whether companies can legally fire someone for being LGBT. And that’s shocking enough. But on a deeper level, the cases are about whether LGBT people will have equal opportunity or whether they may be treated as inferior citizens throughout all aspects of daily life.

What’s at stake?

This new infographic can be useful to understand what’s at stake.

These three cases will determine whether LGBT people will continue to have protections under federal nondiscrimination law, or whether it will be legal under federal law for employers to fire someone simply for being LGBT. If the Court rules that LGBT people are not protected by existing federal workplace protections, anti-LGBT opponents will rapidly use the same legal reasoning to work to attempt to overturn critical federal protections in housing, healthcare, credit, education and more.

In short, LGBTQ people could soon find themselves living in a nation where federal law says it is legal for them to be denied a job, fired, discriminated against at school, denied a loan, rejected by a doctor, and evicted from an apartment, simply because they are LGBT.

Our 2019 brief provides more information about the potential outcomes of the cases and their impacts.

The infographic below can be a helpful tool to understand the “domino” effect of a loss, where protections not only in employment, but in healthcare, education, housing, and credit could be at risk.

The infographic below shows the percentage of people by race living in states without protections who would lose federal workplace protections if the Supreme Court rules that Title VII doesn’t protect LGBT workers:

Take action

We need to be mobilizing NOW to ensure that every one of our federal and state representatives understands that passing anti-discrimination protections is an urgent and top priority.  We cannot wait for the outcome of this case to start mobilizing: every single person who is LGBT or who cares about LGBT people must engage now. 

Don’t forget: our equality maps provide a helpful picture of the existing patchwork of legal protections at the state level, and what would remain if LGBT people can no longer seek recourse through the EEOC for employment discrimination.

Together, the cases have the potential to take America backward. Now is the time to reiterate the importance of nondiscrimination for LGBT people and all people.

NEW REPORT — Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America

Media coverage often portrays rural America as singularly white, conservative and working-class. Yet at least 10 million people of color, including LGBT people of color, call rural America home.

Today, MAP released a new report, Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America, which examines the unique challenges of LGBT people of color in rural America and highlights distinct experiences across different communities of color. As the second publication in the Where We Call Home series, this report details how the structural challenges of rural life amplify acceptance of or discrimination against LGBT people of color. 

Click here to read the exclusive Advocate op-ed about the report.

MAP is thrilled to release this report in conjunction with the LGBTQ Presidential Forum—hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and GLAAD—which will be streamed live on MSNBC. Tune in and see MAP’s policy work take center stage along with the Democratic Party candidates. 

This report offers extensive new findings on LGBT people of color in rural communities, where discrimination based on race and immigration status is compounded by discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Some key findings of the report include:

  • People of color, including those in rural areas, are more likely than white people to identify as LGBT: people of color comprise 42% of the national LGBT population, compared to 36% of the total U.S. population.
  • LGBT people of color in rural states are especially vulnerable to discrimination. Overall, rural states are significantly less likely than majority urban states to have vital nondiscrimination protections, and are also more likely to have harmful, discriminatory laws. 
  • LGBT people of color experience similar or higher rates of both poverty and unemployment compared to both non-LGBT people of color and white people. 
  • Smaller populations in rural communities mean any “difference” is more noticeable. For LGBT people of color, increased visibility as both people of color and as LGBT people in rural communities may mean further vulnerability.
  • LGBT people of color have fewer support structures and resources that accept them both as a person of color and someone who is LGBT. The relative social and geographic isolation of rural areas can compound this problem. For example, LGBT-focused programs in rural areas, if available at all, may not fully recognize or be equipped to support people who are both LGBT and a person of color, and programs for people of color in rural areas may not be accepting of people of color who are also LGBT.

Click here to view infographics pulled from Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America.

Because LGBT people of color may experience discrimination based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their race or ethnicity, passing nondiscrimination protections at the federal, state, and local level is vital to ensure full participation in all aspects of life. Where We Call Home: LGBT People of Color in Rural America concludes with recommendations for community organizations, educators, healthcare providers and policymakers to address the specific needs of LGBT people of color in rural communities.

The report is released in partnership with the Equality Federation, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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BiWeek 2019

This week (September 16-23) is #BiWeek 2019! This is a week to celebrate the B in LGBT and to raise up the voices and experiences of bisexual people.

Despite a growing understanding and acceptance of the LGBT community and increased legal protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the experiences and realities of bisexual people has largely been invisible. Did you know bisexual people comprise about half (52%) of LGB people in the United States? Did you also know that violence, poverty, discrimination, and poor physical and mental health outcomes within the bisexual population are often at rates higher than their lesbian and gay peers?

Far too often, bisexual people are frequently swept into the greater lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, as their specific disparities are made invisible within data about the LGB community as a whole. That’s why, in 2016, MAP released a groundbreaking report Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them, which focuses on the “invisible majority” of the LGBT community: dvthe nearly five million adults in the U.S. who identify as bisexual and the millions more who have sexual or romantic attraction to or contact with people of more than one gender.

Since then, MAP has released additional reports looking at bisexual older adults, bisexual transgender people and more. For #BiWeek 2019, check out MAP’s resources that provide an overview into the lives of bisexual people, including an introduction to the issues facing bisexual people.

Trump Administration Wants to Allow Taxpayer-Funded Organizations to Use Religious Litmus Test for Employees – Act Now!

The Trump Administration has proposed a rule that would give federal contractors a license to discriminate against their workers.

Under current federal law and existing presidential executive orders, federal contractors can’t discriminate against their workers based on race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The proposed rule would greatly expand the existing religious exemption for contractors to include for-profit companies and nearly any contractor who claims a religious objection to a worker. This means that a for-profit federal company could create a religious litmus test for workers, fire all workers who can’t meet the standards, and continue to receive federal contract dollars. This proposed rule would put religious minorities, LGBT people, single parents, women who use contraception or get an abortion, and many more at risk.

Religious freedom is a fundamental American value and it should not be used to harm or discriminate against others. And companies that receive federal contract dollars should not be permitted to discriminate against their workers. More than 20% of the U.S. workforce is employed by a federal contractor and these workers would be at risk for being fired.

The administration issued the rule and gave an abnormally short comment period, which ends on Monday, September 16. Share your concern about allowing taxpayer dollars to be used to discriminate by submitting a comment to the Department of Labor.

Fashion Industry Leaders Pledge to Be Open to All

Tapestry was joined by over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion and the Open to All campaign, to make a powerful statement about the industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and protecting equality on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 in New York. (Loren Matthew/AP Images for Tapestry, Inc.)

Today, Tapestry Inc. (a leading New York-based house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle brands including Coach, kate spade new york and Stuart Weitzman), over 50 fashion houses and brands, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion joined Open to All, making a powerful statement about the fashion industry’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and embracing equality. Never before have so many fashion houses joined together in a single, unified campaign that sends a message that everyone is welcome, valued and respected.

This collective effort was inspired by Tapestry’s work with the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Founding Open to All signatories and fellow CEO Action members Levi Strauss & Co., Old Navy, and Gap Inc. joined Tapestry as they signed the Open to All pledge alongside more than 50 fashion houses and brands (see below for the full list of participating brands). We are grateful to Tapestry Inc., which partnered with Open to All to recruit these brands to join our campaign. Click here to read the press release.

This is a moment where fashion industry giants across America are sending a message: no matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, or what style and expression makes you feel like you, you are welcome.  

We encourage all Open to All public education coalition members to please share this historic announcement out over social media. Below are some graphics and sample posts to share.

In the almost two years since Open to All’s inception, and thanks to the leadership of the Open to All coalition, we have had over 5,000 large and small businesses sign the business pledge. Tapestry has worked beyond the walls of their stores to bring the fashion industry together to join the growing Open to All campaign. Open to All continues to build a thriving, competitive, and inclusive America where customers and employees are valued, respected and welcomed regardless of who they are. Today’s announcement exemplifies the spirit of Open to All and creates true transformation.

What We Know About LGBT People with Disabilities

Today marks the 29th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in nearly every area of life, from work to housing and public accommodations and education. The ADA also ensures that people living with HIV aren’t discriminated against.  

New research shows that LGBT people are more likely to have a disability than the general population.For example, in a survey of more than 26,000 transgender people, 39% reported having a disability.  Andone in three lesbians and one in three bisexual women report having a disability in a population-based survey in Washington.  

As the country reflects on what work remains for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in America, the Movement Advancement Project, in partnership with the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative and LGBT Research and Communications Project, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the National LGBTQ Task Force, released a short summary of what we know about LGBT people with disabilities.